When we think of growing our businesses, one of the first things that comes to mind is that we need to network more. Scouring websites like Eventbrite and Meetup will bring up a slew of potential events you can attend. You can go to a happy hour one night, and a seminar the next, and a dinner after that. Before you know it, your schedule is full and you’re questioning the return on your investment.
Maybe there is a way to have quality over quantity? I still believe in meeting and connecting with people, but I tend to shy away from traditional networking events. If I find myself in one by mistake, I make up fake titles for myself. Seriously, at my last accidental networking event I was an Undercover Superhero who left her cape at home.
Networking events to me seem forced. Here, take my card. If you ever need my services… No, I’m not in the market for commercial real estate… or handmade jewelry. Such a mixed group of people from various walks of life, all trying to build contacts and connections, and essentially, have some element of sales or services eventually take pace.
I’ve found a more authentic way to make connections with good people. It’s called: Living my life… with a side order of: Trying new things. More referrals have come my way from unique gatherings such as improv class, kickboxing and other workouts, and volunteering. Not everyone you meet is looking to work with you, but everyone you meet is a someone, and you’re likely doing a common task together in that moment. So, be fully in that moment and appreciate the people that are joining in on the activity at hand. Foster those relationships, because they help to build you out as a person. Knowing someone from a non traditional sense (i.e., group dinner, salsa dancing, cooking class) allows someone to see and appreciate you as a whole person.
Once you have that in your corner, should they ever need a professional service that you offer, they are more likely to reach out to you first for your input. “Hey, you work in marketing, right?” A stronger connection is there because it’s two people talking who have commonalities already established. There isn’t a sales person or business-card-pusher in the room.
When someone sees me, I want them to see more than my business. I want them to see that we’re involved in the community through projects like the Have A Nice Day Project, and that we like to try new things like cocktail making classes at a favorite local bar. When someone is buying into my business, they are also buying into me as a person. We are on the cusp of the rise of the conscious consumer, meaning that people are doing more research on the companies and brands they want to be connected to. This is an opportunity for us to show up, to show our full selves, and to get more involved in the world around us.
What are some cool things that you’ve been meaning to try? Maybe use that as an opportunity to replace one of those networking events you signed up for.